There is one exception to federal nondiscrimination laws worth noting: Suppose a couple wants to hire a child care provider.  Are they also bound by the same antidiscrimination laws restricting what employers can ask of a prospective employee?  No.  Why not?  Because federal civil rights laws apply only to employers of 15 people or more.

State civil rights will vary somewhat, depending on the state.  However, no employer, not even a couple looking for a child care provider, can discriminate on the basis of race.  There is a federal law, the 1866 Civil Rights Act, that prohibits “color” discrimination in the making of contracts.  The important thing to remember is that, even though there’s no written employment contract involved, all the elements of a contract are present, even if it’s just a couple hiring a child care provider.  The courts have ruled that the 1866 Civil Rights Act applies when, as in this example, a couple does nothing more than hire a child care provider.

There will always be gray areas when the conversation turns to unusual situations like this one; but, as a general rule, employment decisions should not be based on any factor except past job performance.